Coast columnist and ITV’s Love Your Garden presenter Frances Tophill on what to do with the extra daylight hours and how to make the most of your elder plants

The days are at their longest, our coastal plants are romping away and there is everything to celebrate: still the hot, hazy, height-of-summer months to come but the warmth nonetheless meaning our gardens look at their best. And with all this extra daylight, there must be one thing on everybody’s minds: ‘What do I do with myself to fill all those extra hours!’ I’m joking, of course. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find plenty to keep yourself busy. But just in case you do find an hour to spare, why not try this… 

Elder (Sambucus nigra) is a failsafe hedging plant for a coastal plot, being able to withstand some coastal winds and salinity in the soil. If you are in the lucky position of having an elder or two in your garden, now is the time to get the most from it. If not, plant one or go for an elder-filled walk, because this is the season for elderflower cordial. Simply go out with a plastic bag, a pair of scissors and get snipping. You will need 20-30 flower heads for a cordial, mixed with boiling water, three lemons, two oranges, 50g of citric acid (available from kitchen stores or online) and around 900g of sugar. Leave this concoction for a day or so, drain it, bottle it and enjoy with sparkling water. A true taste of summer.

This is the best time to harvest early potatoes, lettuce and radishes, prune your spring flowering shrubs and plant out summer bedding. You can also begin your watering regime, put shade into your greenhouse and start to stake plants.

In the July issue of coast (on sale now!), Frances takes a look at beach foraging, samphire and sea kale. To keep up with her column, pick up a copy of the magazine.

Growing up on the Kent coast, Frances has the sea in her blood. A presenter on ITV’s Love Your Garden, she studied horticulture at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh and is the author of First-Time Gardener (Kyle Books). She now lives on the South Devon coast and works on her own plot and community projects.